As we draw very close indeed to D&D, I’m always reminded of the wonderful conversations that come out of it each year. Last year in particular, I got chatting to Catherine Love and Ira Brand at the pub afterwards (the natural birthplace of ideas) about our desire to make the academia of performance feel less intimidating. We talked a lot then, and later via email, about wanting to have a reading/discussion group that we felt would make the subject more approachable, and allow people access to some of the theoretical perspectives that you usually need to hunt down in textbooks or have studied at university.
I confess we still haven’t quite sorted out how to do this, but what did stick was the idea that books about arts/performance should be easier to access for those who can’t afford them and don’t have the use of academic libraries. I couldn’t be a bigger fan of public libraries, and there’s an ever-changing tower of borrowed books in my living room thanks to my local one, but unfortunately they often don’t have a range of books about performance that is either up to date or particularly wide-ranging.
However, I realised that the collective assemblage of critics, makers, students, lecturers and general arts nerds that I know certainly do, and in fact a few of us already swap books on a regular basis.
So I don’t know exactly what to call what it is that I’m trying to start (you’ll see that I’ve opted for the highly original ‘The Library’), but I suppose a book collective of some sort? A larger network that allows us to do what we’re already doing with friends.
The idea is simple – we all catalogue the books that we have, then anyone who would like to borrow one contacts the owner and they swap. So it is a library, really, but sort of… housed in everyone’s home?
Theory, history, playtexts, poetry – pretty much anything goes!
In just a few days and with a handful of people, we’ve already amassed 177 titles, so I can only imagine what we can do with more of you!
So, yes, this is where you come in.
It’s still the germ of a plan at the moment – we’re a bit limited to London and the ability to physically meet and swap (any venues who would be interested in hosting a drop box would earn my eternal love and gratitude and possibly cake!), but please get in touch if you have any ideas, or if you’re planning to do something similar where you are, I’d love to chat. I’ll be at D&D all weekend, so if you’re there please come and say hello – I’m the one who looks nothing like my Twitter avatar!